There’s an ever-increasing amount of mud-slinging going on these days now that the General Election is just around the corner, and I have been thinking about how dangerous it can be to be associated with certain nefarious types, however innocently or far-fetched. At one time or another we have all encountered one or two scoundrels who may have been stirring things up unbeknownst to us but later on, when the truth came out, we could have been tarred with the same brush. With that in mind, I have looked back across the years and have assembled my own “watch list” of possible troubled associations. You know, if I decided to one day run for public office someone somewhere might find a way to link my name to one of those "evil doers"?
I went to school with John, although he was a year ahead of me. I remember him walking down the halls of our high school by himself and looking very lonely. He infamously went on to be the would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan. If I had known he aspired to shoot the president in order to impress his pretend girlfriend Jodie Foster, I would have averted my eyes and never acknowledged him. I’m surprised I wasn’t interviewed by the FBI after he committed his terrible deed. His photo was in my high school yearbook, in my bookshelf at home. Surely that would make me a possible accomplice.
The sister of one of my closest friends was good friends with Sharon Tate back in the 60s and was supposed to be at her party that fateful evening up in the Canyon. She couldn’t attend because she couldn’t find a babysitter and hence is still alive today. Surely in hindsight the cops would want to interview me to see if I maybe had some ties there with the Manson family. Never mind that I was only 12 years old at the time of the murders.
HUNSTVILLE STATE PRISON
This one has trouble written all over it in so many ways. I went to school at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas and lived across the street from the maximum security unit for 4 years. My sorority raised money every fall by selling beer and burgers at the Prison Rodeo and I remember being winked at by one of the prison rodeo contestants whom I found out later was an inmate there at the prison for committing capitol murder. That wink could have cost me dearly if anyone else had seen it. Who knew? Maybe I was plotting to help him bust out or something. I also rode the Greyhound home one weekend with a couple of ex-cons who had just been released from the prison the day before. Being bus-mates could have smeared me for life. Was I the girlfriend of one of them and maybe we were on our way to our next heist?
You won't have heard of Jim, but he was married to my sorority sister Chris and I always thought he was a little slimy. He was a chemistry major, never appeared to bathe or wash his hair and was always at the library. A few years after college graduation I was watching the news one day and there was Jim, being handcuffed and pushed into the back of a Houston squad car. Jim had obviously paid close attention in his chemistry classes because he had been running a successful meth lab for a number of years. If I had known he would go on to a semi-successful career in pharmaceuticals I would have steered clear of him, too. I am amazed the FBI didn’t come calling, asking to see my medicine chest at home.
Don’t know if anyone has ever heard of that song “I Danced With A Man Who Danced With A Girl Who Danced With The Prince of Wales", but it is in that vein that I see how people can sometimes be linked with other people, however obscurely. This can be a dangerous and perilous thing. If I flew over the North Pole would that make me Santa Claus? If my ancestors owned slaves or fought on the side of the Confederacy would that make me a racist? If I spoke Arabic would that make me a terrorist? If I served on the PTA with an ex-exotic dancer turned homeroom mom, would that make me a stripper? Before we all go off the deep end and assume the worst about a person (such as a presidential candidate) I think we need to take a hard look at what the actual connection is there and exercise a little common sense.
I once spent the night in Reykjavik, Iceland, but that doesn't make me a reindeer.